Experience one of the region's hot food scenes Nov. 2 - 5
By Susan Able, Edible DC
We sat down with event organizer, Maureen Egan to talk about the fourth year of Fire, Flour & Fork and what’s coming up for what has become the region's "can't miss" November food event in Richmond.
Edible DC: Tell our readers what Fire, Flour & Fork (FFF) is all about?
Maureen Egan: This is the 4th year of FFF. It's 37 events in 4 days, Nov. 2-5 in Richmond, shining a light on Richmond's cuisine scene and also inviting some super out-of-town guests. FFF gives our culinary stars a chance to show off and share what they've built here with a larger audience. It’s Richmond. We love producing quirky and unexpected events that show the connections between our vibrant restaurant scene and farmers and makers. But we designed FFF to be a more intimate experience than many other food festivals. We don't put thousands of people in a convention center or under a tent. Our background is in food tours, so we like that intimacy. We put together a curated mix of events that include behind-the-scenes tours, small classes in restaurants with, for instance, the pasta maker or sake expert and of course, larger scale Signature Events like Carnaval Latino and Chaat It Up that have a party atmosphere with dancing, performances, music and plenty of worthy food and drink.
EDC: What is new and exciting at this year's event?
ME: Our theme this year is “Globally Inspired/Locally Made” so our Signature Events (and some of the smaller tours and classes in restaurants) have a global flair. Smoke on the Water is all about Global BBQ this year with Jamaican, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Korean bbq--plus a vegetarian take. Carnaval Latino will put the focus on many of the region's smaller restaurants who often aren't a part of the bigger food festivals. Plus it will connect our coffee and chocolate cultures with their Central American partners.
Our 3rd annual Dabney Dinner, honoring Richmond's own 19th-century caterer and restaurateur, John Dabney, who began his illustrious career while still enslaved, will feature the premiere by Field Studio of a documentary about his life and legacy. We're honored to hold the dinner at First African Baptist Church, which was Dabney's own congregation, and to have Michael Twitty, author of The Cooking Gene, as our special guest. Michael Hall of Spoonbread Bistro and Velma Johnson of Mama J's will put together a menu that pays tribute to Mr. Dabney.
My partner in FFF, Susan Winiecki, and I have written Richmond's Culinary History: Seeds of Change, which will be published in the nick of time--24 chapters that tell how the city has evolved over the centuries using the lens of food and its makers. Of course there's a chapter on John Dabney! We'll be doing book-signings Saturday at our Class Pass sessions.
EDC: You've got a great line-up of guest speakers--who are you excited to hear from?
ME: Don't tell the others, but Gabrielle Hamilton, who will lead off our Class Pass day of talks, book-signings and demos at The Valentine downtown on Saturday, Nov. 4th is killer. All ticket holders will get to hear her be interviewed by CherryBombe's Kerry Diamond before breaking off into smaller groups for the rest of the day's sessions. Zarela Martinez will be doing a demo and talking of her storied life and career during the day and headling Carnaval Latino that night. Kristen Kish will be on a star-studded panel talking about women in food with Kerry Diamond, Joy Crump and Jessica Wilson. Michael Twitty at the Dabney Dinner should be powerful. And then there's Richmond's own James Beard-nominated for Best Baker, Evin Dogu, doing a demo sharing the story of her grandmother's and her own recipes for pogaca. When she gave me some of the backstory, I honestly teared up.
EDC: Some events may be sold out, can people still get tickets?
ME: Tours, classes, dinners and lunches here and there are still available, including our kickoff luncheon at Shagbark with Walter Bundy welcoming Chris Hastings and Jeremiah Bacon which will have all sorts of extras thrown in to start things off well.
Liquid Launch on Thursday is a great way to see the flood of liquids--mead, cider, beer and coffee--in the gritty and growing Scott's Addition neighborhood. There's also a great dinner on Thursday night with Scott Crawford of Crawford & Sons returning to his Richmond roots at The Daily to cook with Michelle Williams, Trevor Knotts and Dallas Miller.
Carnaval Latino will take advantage of the multi-sensory Nuestras Historias: Latinos in Richmond exhibit at The Valentine and our tenting of beautiful Clay St. will be a big party with specialties from Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and elsewhere with some mezcal for good luck as well as music, dancing and some surprises.
We'll end Sunday with a Bhangra at Chaat It Up, headlined by Hemant Mathur (Michelin-starred) and hosted by Sunny Baweja of Lehja who is finally getting recognition (at Sugarland, at Atlanta Food & Wine and from D.C. food writers) for his inventive Indian dishes. It will be a tour of India through food and drink and dance. So excited to have Bhangra performances from student groups from University of Richmond and Maggie L. Walker Governors School.
We added some Sunday events so you have more reasons to hang around Richmond. Putting a Shine on Holiday Cocktails will be a great time at Graffiato with Kristel Poole and Belle Isle Moonshine and Jason Alley will put on a Philly-style sandwich spread with Philly native and San Francisco Big Chef Tom Pizzica at Comfort Sunday as well.
For tickets and more information go to FireFlourFork.com
Maureen Egan co-founded Real Richmond Food Tours after writing Insiders’ Guide to Richmond, VA for Globe Pequot Press in 2010. She has created numerous tours throughout Richmond’s historic neighborhoods that showcase their culinary and cultural offerings to thousands of visitors and residents alike. In 2014, Maureen co-founded Fire, Flour & Fork, an annual gathering for the food curious that puts Richmond’s cuisine scene front and center for 4 days in November. She co-authored Richmond's Culinary History: Seeds of Change in 2017.
Real Richmond Food Tours takes a group of 12-16 on food tours all around town most Saturdays. We meet chefs and owners and sample their specialties and hear the history of the area and discover what's going on now on a 1.5 mile walk, and depending on the week, Church Hill, Jackson Ward, Carytown/Museum District, Downtown, Shockoe Slip and Shockoe Bottom, The Fan and elsewhere are places we visit. For more information or to schedule a tour, go to http://realrichmondva.com/